A gay teen from The Gambia says his father sliced off his earlobe to ‘mark’ him as an abomination.
Nineteen-year-old Modou is currently living in The Netherlands seeking asylum having fled his west African home country where being gay is illegal.
Until October 2014, people found to have had consensual same-sex relations were sentenced to 14 years in prison. In 2014, the laws were made even more severe upping the punishment to a life prison sentence.
Modou told Gay Star News he was caught in bed with another boy when he was 15-years-old. The boy, out of fear for his own life, told his family Modou had attacked him.
Calling it “the biggest mistake” he ever made, Modou came out to his family thinking, “Maybe my family will accept me because I am their family. This is who I am.”
Instead, his family reported him to the local police in his western Gambia village.
Additionally, Modou says his father took him into a locked room and cut off his earlobe to ‘mark’ him as an abomination.
“It was the most painful thing in my life,” Modou told Gay Star News. “The worst thing is they didn’t take me to the hospital or give me medication. They just locked me inside a room as I tried to stop the bleeding.”
There is a history in The Gambia among certain ethnic groups of marking children, sometimes around the eyes or on the cheek, for the purpose of identification.
However, slicing off an earlobe is a practice used only on pedophiles and LGBTQ people.
Once marked, Modou says he thought he would have to spend his life at home, as a recluse.
“Everyone could see it – I could be beaten to death and I would not be missed,” says the 19-year-old.
The teen fled three years ago to the southern part of The Netherlands where he has an uncle. But Modou says he hasn’t shared his sexuality with his uncle because he is Muslim and being gay is not accepted.
He’s currently receiving legal help in applying for asylum, but lives each day in fear that he will be deported to his native country.
“I just want to finish school and live a free life.”